Herbs and other plants for horses


Comfrey – this is a fodder plant in some countries and so can be offered to your horse as a treat

It is also great for bruises, tendon / ligament damage and broken bones (applied topically to the affected area). In fact its common name is ‘knit-bone’


Lemon Balm – calming; lifts mood; supports digestion; insect repellent 



  • Allergies:Mint plants contain an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
  • Respiratory problems:Mint contains menthol, a natural aromatic decongestant that helps to break up phlegm and mucus
  • Digestion:Mint is a calming and soothing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach or indigestion.
  • Gastric ulcers:could help in preventing gastric ulcers associated with regular use of painkillers.
  • Pain relief:Applying peppermint extract externally has been found to increase pain threshold
  • Skin:When applied topically in oil, ointment or lotion, mint has the effect of calming and cooling skin affected by insect bites, rash or other reactions.
  • Oral health:Mint is a natural anti-microbial agent and breath freshener.


Borage: Omega 3, 6 & 9

supports the adrenal glands and is rich in minerals


Milk Thistle – liver support:

use after:

  • antibiotics,
  • medication,
  • vaccines,
  • chemical de-wormers,
  • steroids

in fact any time the liver is under stress.

Supports repair and regeneration


Chamomile – Chamomile can help with:

  • rheumatic problems and rashes.
  • respiratory issues
  • Relieve restlessness.
  • Relieve allergies
  • Aid in digestion
  • Speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns.
  • Treat gastritis and ulcerative colitis.
  • Be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations, including inflammations of mucous tissue.
  • Promote general relaxation and relieve stress.
  • Treat various gastrointestinal complaints.


Parsley – High in vitamin A, B and C, protein, iron, potassium and magnesium. Anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties. Relieves flatulence, anaemia and improves iron intake.


Fennel – The health benefits of fennel include:

  • relief from:
    • anaemia,
    • indigestion,
    • flatulence,
    • constipation,
    • colic,
    • diarrhoea,
    • respiratory disorders
  • benefits in eye care.


Calendula – promotes healing. Calendula has anti-inflammatory and weak antimicrobial activity. It is most often used topically for lacerations, abrasions, and skin infections; less commonly, it is used internally to heal inflamed and infected mucous membranes.

Good for the skin



These following herbs are quite powerful, containing volatile oils which have anti-inflammatory, antibiotic and anti-parasitic properties.

Horses would only very rarely choose to eat small quantities of these plants, as and when necessary.


Yarrow – A versatile plant that can be used to treat coughs, colds, aid digestion, stop diarrhoea, stop bleeding, heal bruises and rashes, and prevent headaches


Thyme – Antiseptic and expectorant properties. Helps to loosen phlegm from colds and flu, soothe infected skin and soothe aching muscles


Rosemary – relaxes the digestive tract. Also used to improve concentration, memory, reduce anxiety and mild depression. Additionally used to treat dandruff.


Lavender – Wide range of calming effects, assisting in the relaxation of muscles, reduction of anxiety and enhancement of sleep. Eases irritability and aids digestion. Also helps with minor skin irritations and can repel insects.


Wormwood –  Used as a tonic to improve liver and gallbladder functioning. Also increases the production of bile and stomach acid, easing digestion and preventing bloating and gas. Serves as an excellent insect repellent.


Sage – Treats colds, coughs, tonsillitis, sore throats, inflamed gums and mouth ulcers. Also used as a memory enhancer, diuretic and digestive aid.



Hedgerow plants 


  • a valuable lymphatic tonic and diuretic therefore useful in treating conditions like skin problems and arthritis, which benefit from purifying the blood.
  • Softens skin when applied topically
  • Reliable diuretic used to help clean gravel and urinary stones and to treat urinary infections
  • also helps with swollen lymph glands
  • In studies cleavers helped lowered blood pressure without slowing heart rate or having any health-threatening side effects.
  • The young leaves can be eaten like spinach.



  • hips: when ripe – rich in Vitamin C
  • some horses like to eat the young shoots



  • mild, but effective anti-inflammatory used to treat arthritis and other aches and pains.
  • leaves and flowers contain salicylates, compounds that are converted by the body to aspirin.
  • Meadowsweet is especially helpful for horses with inflammation of the stomach lining as it can be taken for pain relief without upsetting the stomach
  • Treats stomach disorders such as gastritis, indigestion and heartburn.
  • Helps reduce severity of headaches, as well as inflammation of the joints


Dandelion – excellent detoxifying and diuretic properties. It also possesses vitamins A, B, C and D as well as potassium and calcium. It has been used to treat high blood pressure, cleanse the liver and treat skin problems.


Pineapple weed – Pineapple weed is in the same family as chamomile.  When you pinch on of the flowers you will smell the sweet, light sent of pineapple, hence the name. It is used for a verity of ailments. It is a sedative herb that mainly acts on the digestive system. It is good for relieving insomnia and nausea,


Self Heal:

  • effective in healing wounds and sores.
  • soothes the digestive tract during or following an attack of diarrhoea.
  • Can be bitter so try offering just the leaves initially


Common Plantain – Applied to a bleeding surface, the leaves are of some value in arresting haemorrhage.  The fresh leaves are applied whole or bruised in the form of a poultice. Rubbed on parts of the body stung by insects, nettles, etc., or as an application to burns and scalds, the leaves will afford relief and will stay the bleeding of minor wounds…


Nettle – Topically, it has commonly been used to treat sore muscles, skin issues such as eczema and also anaemia.  In modern times, nettle is used to treat urinary tract infections.

On top of all that, nettle is highly nutritious, containing ample amounts of nitrogen, calcium, silica, iron, phosphates and vitamins B, C, and K.

For horses, feeding dried nettle can help with the following specific issues:

  • respiratory ailments;
  • allergies;
  • laminitis;
  • liver or kidney disorders; and
  • lactation issues.

Nettle tea or extract can also be applied externally to help with arthritis.


Red Clover – High in isoflavones and phytestrogenic compounds


Blackberries: a great source of Vitamin C to support your horse through winter.




Horses often forage from trees.  These are a few that your horse(s) might like: 

Silver Birch – The sap from the birch tree contains vital vitamins, minerals, and sugars, mainly glucose and fructose. It is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, phosphorous, iron, sodium, and amino acids. It is also rich in vitamin C and B-vitamins like thiamine.  The buds of the birch tree contain antibiotic and diuretic properties while the bark contains digestive, diuretic, and anti-pyretic properties.


Ash: the bark and bark of the root have astringent properties, and have been used in decoctions to help in fevers, to remove obstructions in the liver and spleen and for rheumatism and arthritis. The leaves are diuretic and diaphoretic, so promote sweating. Traditionally the ash tree’s bark, roots and leaves have been used to treat cancerous growths that are external, as pain killers, anti-inflammatory for rheumatism and arthritis, and to get rid of intestinal worms.


Willow The salicin in Willow bark, which has similar health effects as acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), is converted into salicylic acid after it is absorbed by the stomach, therefore, it may not cause stomach irritation like aspirin and can be a great option for treating minor to severe ailments.


Hawthorn Traditionally, the berries were used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure. Hawthorn contains antioxidants – substances that destroy free radicals, which are compounds in the body that damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. … Antioxidants in hawthorn may help stop some of the damage from free radicals, especially when it comes to heart disease



Caution – if you would like to use any of these plants medicinally, please consult a qualified herbalist




5 Acupressure Points Every Horse Person Should Know

Red Feather Tack

What more can you do to keep your horse healthy, naturally? Try Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

TCM looks at the nature of the horse in relation to its environment. Though horses have a natural ability to adapt to living in paddocks, being enclosed in stalls and fed from elevated feeders, many common equine care techniques can lead to a not-so-optimal balance in health. Acupressure can help.

The goal of practicing equine acupressure is to improve the balance of Chi throughout your horse’s body. Here are five acupressure points that address common issues: digestion, physical flexibility, calming, the immune system, and spinal/hindquarter strength.

5 Key Pressure Points

  1. Stomach 36 (St 36), Leg 3 Mile, is the Master Point for the gastrointestinal tract. It enhances digestive functioning so the body can break down the nutrients from food and herbs, making them bio-available for absorption.
  2. Gall Bladder 34 (GB 34), Yang Mound Spring, is the…

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A horse-share story

About 5-6 weeks ago I was very fortunate to begin a horse-share arrangement at a yard not far from where I live. The horse in question is a beautiful dark brown gelding called Knight. Over the past month or so we’ve been getting to know each other and he has been teaching me so much.


When I first met him, I was told that Knight had some back issues and was showing signs of pain when ridden, in fact his young owner told me that he would try to buck her off. He had been seen by a vet who recommended a session with an equine physio. The physio had found that his back muscles were tight and painful so she used a massager on him. He has now had 2 sessions with her and will soon be getting measured for a new saddle.

I started by offering Knight some healing, some gentle massage and a few acupressure points that I thought might be helpful. (During an initial scan I’d noticed that Knight reacted at 2 points on his neck and was also sensitive around his lumbar area.) Knight ‘tolerated’ these therapies, briefly, but didn’t seem to be enjoying them so I shelved them for now and instead we practised some gentle exercises in the school, including walking over poles, weaving, doing circles to encourage him to bend and increase flexibility in his spine, carrot stretches to release any tight muscles and walking backwards to strengthen his back and his hip flexors.

Knight seemed to do most of these exercises quite easily and it helped us to get to know each other a little better. He appeared to be curious about this newcomer and even followed me through the exercises without being led. It was a lovely feeling for me that he was choosing to be with me – even if only out of curiosity – and it made me want to develop our relationship and connection further. This is something that is very important to me, and a big part of what I focus on in my work, but spending time with Knight has opened up a whole new level for me.


Every horse is an individual and brings a whole series of new teachings. I get the impression that Knight is a very ‘contained’ horse – calm on the outside but holding a lot of emotion inside. Whether in the school, paddock or stable he would comply with what I asked or gently show me that he ‘didn’t want to play today’ but without any real emotion. I got the feeling that I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg, like a mask – a façade that he shows to the outside world, while keeping his inner thoughts very private. I felt that he was letting me in just so far, but no further. While respecting that this is his choice, I also want to make sure that he knows he is completely safe around me. I always keep my energy low when I’m with him, moving gently and keeping my hands and voice soft. I want him to know that he can trust me always to be reliable and to never use punishment with him.

I also often spend time with him, just being present, not asking anything of him, other than for him to be himself. I want him to know that he is free to express himself and make his own choices, to encourage him to be self-aware. I would like him to to feel safe to show me his wants and needs, knowing that I will listen. I still keep boundaries, and hopefully I do this consistently, so that Knight learns what is or is not ‘ok’ with me, just as I do for him. I watch his body language and encourage him to take the lead at times. This seems to be encouraging him to open up a little more and to be more relaxed around me. The other day he actually yawned for the first time with me – and not just a small yawn either! It built up into a massive jaw and tongue release which was beautiful to see.

Some of the best times we’ve had have been in the paddock where I often just spend time sitting on the ground while Knight and his 2 field buddies graze around me. It’s very touching how these large animals take such good care around me. They are always very gentle and are conscious about where they put their feet! I love to watch the buzzards riding the thermals, the swallows swooping after insects, the rabbits hopping about and the butterflies enjoying the sunshine. I also love the sound of the wind in the trees and the feel of it caressing my skin.  These are magical times that the horses allow me to share with them.


Yesterday, before going to the yard, I watched The Path of the Horse . This is an amazing film and I highly recommend watching it. It was one of those moments where the Universe delivers exactly what you need, at exactly the right time – a gift … and a challenge! Many parts of the film were difficult for me to watch, some because I have been guilty of less than gentle handling in the past (partly due to ignorance but also because I was lacking the confidence to question what I was taught, even when it felt wrong and also, to my shame, I have at times taken out my pain on these beautiful, patient animals) also some scenes reflected my pain, as the horse does, showing that I have much personal work still to do.

I realised that this is what I was bringing to Knight – and that this was what he was reflecting back to me! No wonder he appeared reserved and very self-contained. No wonder he didn’t seem to trust me with his innermost feelings. I’ve been doing exactly the same with him – and with myself!

Being honest with myself I’ve known this to be true but needed to be confronted with it. I’ve been making excuses that it was ‘ok’, ‘not really important’ or ‘not about me, anyway’, but being with Knight has shown me that I must be willing to ‘show up’ and fully own, and take responsibility for, all of my emotions before I can expect the same from him. At the same time I can be free to go with the moment with a very light, soft touch, allowing my ‘E-Motions’ (Energy in Motion) to ebb and flow naturally without the baggage of guilt or ‘navel gazing’ that we humans so often get caught up in.

After watching the film I went to see Knight. I brought my drum (an Irish bodhran) and Kindle with me and we played and danced together. It felt rather strange at first (and I was glad that no-one was watching) but it also felt liberating and joy-ful and Knight seemed to pick up on this energy and join in.


We then just stood together, Knight dozing, feeling the wind in our hair, the sun on our backs and enjoying each other’s energy.  It was a very beautiful and special time and an infinitely precious moment of connection between us that we can build on.